Be selfish with ice-cream and bath time. Leave that behavior behind at our state and national parks.
In looking at national parks to visit this summer, I was reminded by Baxter State Park in Maine about the Seven Principles of Leave No Trace.
Beauty, adventure, discovery, and relaxation are all reasons we seek out our state and national parks. These qualities only persist; however, if you practice and pass on Leave No Trace ethics.
Share these with your friends, and refresh your commitment to them yourself. You are the most important steward of our parks!
Plan Ahead and Prepare
• Learn about the area before you visit including weather, terrain and park rules and regulations.
• Be prepared for your trip. Bring proper gear and clothing. Per park regulation, carry a working flashlight and extra batteries, just in case you are stranded in the dark.
Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
• Durable surfaces consist of existing trails, rock, and gravel surfaces
• Camping in authorized sites.
• Walk single file in the middle of the trail even when wet and muddy to protect fragile plants and habitat. Avoid widening, creating new trails or bypasses. Rock hop if you need to leave the trail for any reason.
• Keep areas looking natural by not leaving rock piles, flagging or blazes.
Dispose of Waste Properly
• Every park is a Carry In/Carry Out park—please pack out all trash and leftover food. Protect yourself and wildlife by storing food and garbage in a tightly sealed container that is hard for animals to reach or store it in your vehicle.
• Use outhouses: Please deposit only toilet paper and human waste in outhouses. Pack out hygiene products—ask for a litter bag if necessary.
• If below treeline with no outhouse, deposit human waste in a cathole (a hole you dig yourself) 6-8 inches deep at least 200’ from water and trails, cover hole when finished, pack out toilet paper and hygiene products.
• If above treeline, rock hop to get off trail and 200’ away from water, deposit human waste on top of soil (do not dig holes), pack out toilet paper and hygiene products. Avoid urinating on plants; instead choose rocks and gravel away from trails and water.
• Wash yourself and dishes at least 200’ from any water source, being sure not to use any kind of soap (even biodegradable soap) in any water source. Strain dishwater through a bandana or sieve and put food scraps in a carry out litter bag. Scatter strained dishwater 200’ from camp or water.
Leave What You Find
• Per BSP Regulation, leave plants, antlers, rocks and historical items as where you find them, so the next person can enjoy them.
• Preserve the natural environment by not peeling birch bark off trees, building structures or carving into objects.
• Avoid introducing or transporting non-native species by cleaning boots, packs, tents and boats before entering the Park.
Minimize Campfire Impacts
• Only make fires and use stoves in designated camping and picnic areas.
• Protect bird habitat, animals’ homes, and trees by not peeling birch bark or breaking branches off live or dead standing trees.
• Burn only wood. Pack out and dispose of everything else.
• Burn all wood and coals to ash, and put out campfires completely
• DO NOT BURN food scraps, packaging, disposable plates or flatware, tinfoil, cigarette butts, diapers, cans, bottles, etc. etc. etc. Pack these out and dispose of them appropriately.
• Observe animals from a distance. Do not follow or approach them, especially during sensitive times of mating, nesting, raising young, and in winter when survival is hardest.
• Never feed wildlife, human food is not healthy for them. Keeping them wild will help them survive.
• Unless pets are permitted, leave pets at home to protect your pet and our wildlife. Leash your pet wherever requested.
Be Considerate of Other Visitors
• Hike quietly (a.k.a. don’t be obnoxious) so others can enjoy the wilderness.
• Yield to other hikers. Share the trail.
• Use pullouts to let other vehicles pass on the Park roads. The slower you go, the more you see.
By practicing the seven principles of Leave No Trace and our Park rules, you can visit our state and national parks the "right unspoiled way". Leave not trace, and so will your grandchildren.
Thank you for making a difference and being a steward of our nation’s greatest natural resources!